100 years of Rager history
- Kevin Gaboury
- Central Oregonian - Features
Centennial celebration being planned for historic ranger station
"On December 17 I was on top of Wolf Mountain. Snow about a foot deep and cold wind blowing; snow drifting and of course I wanted a fire. I gathered a load of moss and dead limbs off of fir trees and piled them down on top of dry fir windfall, touched a match to it and away she went just like an August 15 fire. It looked like I was about to have a crown fire in heavy fir timber. I wished for a shovel so I could throw snow on it to cool it down. Boys, don't argue with the boss, he may be right about the dry conditions in the mountains this winter."
These words, appearing in the January 1926 Ochocoian, were written by Charles Congleton, the first ranger of the Rager Creek Ranger Station. Congleton, who served from 1907 to 1927, kept extensive journals of his comings and goings in the region.
Now, 100 years after Congleton laid the groundwork for the first Rager (pronounced RAY-gur) Ranger Station in April 1908, the planning a 1908-2008 Centennial Celebration.
All past employees, their families, volunteers, those involved in partnerships, and Paulina community residents are invited to attend the celebration, which occurs June 13 to 15. The event kicks off with a Paulina community barbecue hosted by the Paulina Store on Friday night.
After a 12 p.m. sign-in, Saturday's events include tours of the ranger station compound and dinner at 5 p.m. with an evening program beginning at 7. The dinner will feature music provided by central Oregon musicians and participants are encouraged to bring their own instruments and join in.
The festivities come to an end on Sunday with breakfast by the Pau Mau Club at the Paulina Community Hall.
The station has experienced a number of renovations over the years, but still remains in the same remote location Congleton surveyed in 1908: right at the edge of the forest near the foot of the Ochocos.
According to District Archaeologist Kathleen Martin, Congleton chose the area due to its central location, which provided an easy trip by horse south into sunflower country, east to the South Fork of the John Day and Wolf Ridge, or west over Summit Prairie.
All of the original buildings were torn down in the early 1930s to make room for a new ranger station complex and in 1941, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built a new office, barn and shop. By 1964, the current office was built and has remained ever since. Many of the CCC buildings still remain as well, although they serve different functions now.
Martin mentioned that the Rager Station is unique in its perseverance over time.
"The Rager Ranger Station is pretty unique in that over the years, as a lot of the remote, outlying ranger stations disappeared one-by-one, Rager remains here as an active part of the Ochoco National Forest," she said. "We are now the most remote ranger station in Region Six, which is all of Washington and Oregon."
The Rager Station is located about three miles east of Paulina, just off the Paulina Highway.